Tuesday, June 27, 2017





Modern family

More courts allowing 3 parents of 1 child

NEW YORK — Sixteen-year-old Madison’s family clustered for a photo in a California courtroom, commemorating the day it finally became official that she has three parents.

The adults she calls Mom, Dad and Mama were all there for her birth, after the women decided to have a child together and approached a male friend. They shared time with Madison and input on raising her. Their Christmas Day traditions involve all of them.

But legally, Victoria Bianchi became her daughter’s parent only this fall, joining a small but growing number of Americans who have persuaded courts and legislatures to give legal recognition to what’s sometimes called “tri-parenting.”

“I just felt like I’ve been holding my breath for the last 16 years,” Bianchi said. “She’s already been my daughter … she’s finally, legally mine.”

Bianchi made use of a 2013 California law declaring that a child can have more than two parents. A similar law took effect in Maine last year. Courts in at least 10 other states, including New York just this winter, have designated third parents in recent years, even as some courts and experts have raised qualms that more parents means more potential conflict.

American courts have for decades granted some rights to grandparents, stepparents and others in children’s lives, but parents have uniquely broad rights and responsibilities.

Advocates say acknowledging a third parent – whether on a birth certificate, by adoption, or in a custody or child support ruling – reflects the modern realities of some families: gay couples who set out to have a child with a friend of the opposite gender, men seeking to retain paternal roles after DNA shows someone else is a biological father, and other situations.

The landscape is only getting more complex. For instance, new techniques designed to avoid some rare diseases now allow for a child to be born with a small amount of DNA from a third person.

Without legal rights, some parents and kids face being cut off from each other, says Cathy Sakimura, of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights, which helped draft California’s law.

But some courts have rejected extending the bounds of parenthood. A 2014 Wyoming Supreme Court decision wondered about parents multiplying as a mom or dad had new relationships.

While there’s little if any research directly on tri-parenting, experts are divided on how it may affect children.
Anita Jones Thomas, a University of Indianapolis professor who heads the American Psychological Association’s child-and-family section, sees potential pluses. “That extra sense of social support has really been found to be beneficial for children,” she says.

But W. Bradford Wilcox, a University of Virginia sociologist, points to research – not on tri-parenting specifically – showing that children in stable, two-parent families do better on average educationally, emotionally and otherwise than kids who aren’t.

“This is going to be a family form where children are exposed to more complexity and more instability,” he says.
When a quip about having a baby together turned into a serious discussion, Kitty Stillufsen, her longtime friend Darren Greenblatt and his now-husband, Sam Hunt, didn’t foresee how complex tri-parenting would get. 

JEFF CHIU/ASSOcIATEd PRESS On June 8, Madison Bonner-Bianchi (center) legally became the daughter of three parents, Mark Shumway (from left), Kimberli Bonner and Victoria Bianchi. The American legal system is grappling with demands from groups who seek to have more than two parents legally recognized.

Why abbreviation continues to grow

LGBT is an evolving abbreviation, a process that, in and of itself, isn’t so remarkable. Language morphs all the time, but what’s happening with LGBT – like nearly all things pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, hits on age-old struggles around issues of sexuality, identity, gender and freedom of expression.
What should people be called? Members of what had long been the gay community have likely grown up hearing some pretty nasty words and labels.

So, now there’s LGBT, which has turned to LGBTQ in a growing number of circles, with the “Q” standing for “queer” – a controversial word given its past derogatory use – and/or “questioning.” Also becoming more prevalent is LGBTQIA, the “I” stands for “intersex” and the “A” for “asexual” and/or “allied.”
“It’s very culturally and generationally driven,” said Margo M. Jacquot, founding director of The Juniper Center, a psychotherapy practice in Park Ridge, of the ever-longer abbreviations coming to the fore.
The question is just how abbreviated should this initialism be?

Debate about this topic isn’t new – take a look at a 2012 posting on Michael Hulshof-Schmidt’s Social Justice for All blog, co-authored with his husband, Robert, titled “What’s in an acronym? Parsing the LGBTQQIP2SAA community.”
Using LGBT “explicitly calls out key components of a diverse group,” they wrote, adding that “as shorthand goes, it’s fairly effective, recognizing the spectrum of sexual orientation and gender identity in four simple letters. Of course, it can’t please everyone, and like most compromises, leaves plenty of people feeling unheard.”
Orange Is the New Black actress Lea DeLaria addressed this issue in a 2016 interview, saying she favored using “queer” for all of the various communities under the LGBT umbrella.
“This is the biggest issue we have in the queer community to date and will continue to be the biggest issue until we learn to accept our differences, and that’s the issue,” she told “And part of me believes that this inclusivity of calling us the LGBTQQTY-whatever-LMNOP tends to stress our differences. And that’s why I refuse to do it. I say queer. Queer is everybody.”
MICHAEL HULSHOF-SCHmIdT said his views on labels haven’t changed much since that 2012 post. They’re “somewhat unwieldy,” said the executive director of EqualityWorks, NW, a Portland, Ore.-based company that works with other organizations on issues involving racial and gender equity, and “intersecting” identities to create what he calls “a level playing field.”
What’s important, Hulshof-Schmidt added, is “for people to self-identify and for us to believe people when they do identify.”
“Identity is huge,” said Jacquot, a lesbian, when asked why these letters, these labels, are so important to people in the LGBT community.

While Jacquot said some will see LGBT as a “unifying umbrella term so people who feel marginalized, usually around their sexual being, have a home,” she is concerned that when people “talk about LGBT, they talk about it as one community,” when in actuality, there are “very, very different communities,” some of which overlap.
Just how “encompassing” labels should be is explored in classes taught by Gregory Ward, a professor of linguistics, philosophy, and gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University in Evanston.
“What can the public use successfully, and what will exclude people offensively,” he said. “How do we strike that balance between maximum inclusiveness and coming up with a label that can be used without ridicule, and respect the community being referred to.”

Ward pointed to the “tortured history” of words used to denote African-Americans over the decades. One should defer to the community itself in terms of designation, he said, but that’s not the only factor in play. 

DREAMSTIME The letters LGBTQIA refer to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual or allied.
“It’s a shared language. We all have a say in it,” Ward said, noting that while there is a history of specific groups taking ownership of a designation and saying, “This is how we see ourselves,” the rest of community is free to use it or not. And that poses a question on the rest of society: What word do you use?

“Some people don’t like that,” he said. “A choice means a decision must be made.”

ANd THAT CHOICE “reflects our orientation, reflects our sympathies,” said Ward, who used this example: “A terrorist for you could be a freedom fighter for me. It’s an extreme example, but it demonstrates how perspective plays a role.”

While Ward says there seems to be a “holding pattern” right now between LGBT and LGBTQ in public discourse, it is also a fact that as labels evolve, so do words take on new meanings. And words once taboo are finding a redemption of sorts. Take “queer,” whose reputation is such that journalism stylebooks offer a caution on using it outside of a quotation.

But “queer” is how Hulshof-Schmidt identifies himself. It was, he conceded, a “slow evolution within me.”


“I’m 50 years old. It was pretty harmful when I was a young child, and I’ve now become quite fond of it,” he said. Asked why, he said, “I think it’s a lovely piece of resistance against the dominant discourse.”

 "COTROAITOOCAOPUAWAORITFCOTCC" is short for: "Celebration of the rite of acceptance into the order of catechumens and of the rite of welcoming baptized but previously uncatechized adults who are preparing for confirmation and/or Eucharist or reception into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

Everyone knows that!


Anonymous said...

My fav Catholic acronym has been OMCWSPFUWHRTT.

qwikness said...

Everyday it's something new. What a waste of time to worry about this. a Professor of gender and sexuality studies at Northwestern University in Evanston? :eyeroll People are bored if this is all they have to think about. Hopefully some malevolent aliens will attack earth so we can all join together for a common cause.

Anonymous said...

As the governments continue to expand the definition of what a parent is, ultimately the phrase :"it takes a village to raise a child" comes into play. With that statement "the village" becomes the parent. That village being the federal government. That's what happens when biological parents are factored out of the equation.

Gene said...

We are so a dying culture.

Anonymous said...

"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit."

Not every death is a bad thing . . .